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The invasion of the balkans and greece. OCTOBER, 1940 – MAY, 1941. THE BALKAN PENINSULA (2009). BACKGROUND. HITLER NOT ORIGINALLY INTERESTED IN BALKAN/GREEK OCCUPATION HITLER DIDN’T EVEN ENCOURAGE AN ITALIAN INVASION WHY NOT?

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the invasion of the balkans and greece

The invasion of the balkans and greece

OCTOBER, 1940 – MAY, 1941

background
BACKGROUND
  • HITLER NOT ORIGINALLY INTERESTED IN BALKAN/GREEK OCCUPATION
  • HITLER DIDN’T EVEN ENCOURAGE AN ITALIAN INVASION
  • WHY NOT?
    • HITLER WANTED LEBENSRAUMIN (Poland, Russia, etc.) EASTERN EUROPE
    • HITLER WAS CONTENT TO ALLOW ITALY TO DOMINATE THE BALKANS & GREECE
    • MILITARY INVOLVEMENT THERE WOULD REQUIRE NAVAL RESORUCES
    • GERMANS DIDN’T WANT TO DRAIN NAVAL RESOURCES FROM ATLANTIC
  • HITLER SUPPORTS ITALIAN INVASION OF GREECE
  • WHY?
    • BENITO MUSSOLINI WAS DESPERATE TO ACHIEVE “GREAT” VICTORIES
    • AXIS MILITARY ACTION = MORE PRESSURE ON BRITS.
    • HOW?
      • BRITS. & GREEKS ARE ALLIES – BRITS. HAVE TROOPS IN GREECE
      • ATTACK = DISRUPT BRIT. MILITARY ACTION IN NORTH AFRICA
slide5

BENITO

MUSSOLINI

italian invasion of greece
ITALIAN INVASION OF GREECE
  • WHEN? OCTOBER, 1940
  • WHERE? GREECE & ALBANIA
  • WHY?
    • MUSSOLINI WANTS MILITARY “VICTORIES” LIKE HITLER
    • CONTROL OF BOTH COUNTRIES COULD GIVE AXIS CONTROL OF THE ADRIATIC SEA
    • BALKANS POSSESSED SOME IMPORTANT RESORUCES (Oil, metals, etc.)
    • MUSSOLINI BELIEVED BOTH NATIONS WERE WEAK
  • WHAT?
    • ITALIAN INVASION DOESN’T GO WELL
    • HITLER FORCED TO “RESCUE” ITALIANS
    • GERMANS MOVE GROUND / AIR UNITS TO BALKANS
  • OPERATION “MARITA” BEGINS, APRIL 1941
    • GERMAN INVASION OF THE BALKANS
    • YUGOSLAVIA INVADED FIRST – WHY? TO SECURE BASES FOR INVASION OF GREECE
    • YUGOSLAVIA IS ETHNICALLY DIVIDED AND MILITARILY WEAK
  • EFFECT:
    • GERMANS NOW FIGHTING BRITS. IN AREAS FAR FROM BRITAIN
    • DELAYS GERMAN INVASION OF RUSSIA
invasionof the balkans cont d
INVASIONOF THE BALKANS (cont’d.)
  • WHY DID ITALIANS FAIL?
    • MUSSOLINI DOESN’T HAVE A GOOD REASON TO INVADE
    • RESULT?: ITALIAN TROOPS ARE UNINSPIRED TO FIGHT
    • ITALIAN LEADERSHIP IS SUBSTANDARD
  • WHY DOES GERMANY MOVE IN?
    • HITLER CAN’T ALLOW AXIS HUMILIATION
    • BRITISH IN GREECE ARE A CONSTANT THREAT TO HIS OTHER AXIS ALLIES
      • EX.: BULGARIA, RUMANIA, HUNGARY
    • BRITS. COULD THREATEN AXIS RESOURCES IN THESE COUNTRIES
      • EX.: OIL FIELDS IN RUMANIA
    • BRITS. IN GREECE COULD THREATEN AXIS TROOPS IN NORTH AFRICA
invasion of the balkans cont d
INVASION OF THE BALKANS (cont’d.)
  • KEY PROBLEM / QUESTION:
    • TRANSFERRING FORCES TO THE BALKANS WILL DELAY THE INVASION OF RUSSIA UNTIL SUMMER, 1941
    • SO WHAT?
  • OTHER DEVELOPMENTS: YUGOSLAVIA
    • YUGOSLAVIAN GUERILLA MOVMENT DEVELOPS
    • “PARTISANS”: GUERILLA ARMY DEVELOPED BY JOSIP BROZ TITO
    • COMMUNIST GUERILLA ARMY WHICH IS NOT CONTROLLED BY THE SOVIETS
    • WHY IMPORTANT?
crete
CRETE
  • WHAT?
    • FIRST, and ONLY, LARGE-SCALE GERMAN AIRBORNE OPERATION OF WWII
    • ONE OF THE FEW GERMAN CAMPAIGNS RUN BY THE LUFTWAFFE
      • 22,000 TROOPS
      • 600 TROOP TRANSPORT PLANES
      • 280 BOMBERS
      • 200 FIGTHERS
      • 150 STUKAS
  • WHEN? MAY, 1941 (1 MONTH BEFORE GERMANS INVADE RUSSIA)
  • WHY?
    • OPERATION MARITA HAD FAILED TO WIPE OUT BRIT. TROOPS IN GREECE
    • BRITS. HAD RETREATED TO CRETE
    • HITLER WAS ENCOURAGED TO TAKE CRETE BY HIS GENERALS
    • GERMANS BELIEVE CRETE WILL BE A GOOD STAGING AREA FOR FUTURE OPERATIONS IN MED. SEA.
  • WHO?
    • C/O: GENERAL KURT STUDENT, LUFTWAFFE
    • LUFTWAFFE “FALLSCHIRMJAGER” (PARATOOPERS)
    • SUPPORT UNITS INCLUDED:
      • AIR UNITS (SEE ABOVE)
      • ARMY “MOUNTAIN” UNITS
  • WHERE?
    • ISLAND OF CRETE (GREEK – OWNED)
crete cont d
CRETE (cont’d.)
  • GERMANS ARE VERY CONFIDENT BEFORE ATTACK
  • WHY?
    • BELIEVE CRETE IS IDEAL TARGET (WHY?)
    • BELIEVE BRITS. IN CRETE ARE SUBSTANDARD TROOPS
    • DON’T KNOW BRITS. HAVE CRACKED THEIR MILITARY CODES.
  • RESULT?
    • BRITS. KNOW WHAT GERMAN PLANS ARE
    • ELEMENT OF SURPRISE IS LOST
    • WHY SO IMPORTANT?
  • GERMAN PLAN:
    • AIRBORNE TROOPS WILL LAND & SEIZE AIRFIELDS
    • SUPPLIES & EQUIPMENT WILL BE FLOWN INTO SECURE AIRFIELDS
    • GERMANS WILL ADVANCE ALONG MAIN ROAD UNTIL THEY HAVE SECURED ISLAND
crete cont d1
CRETE (cont’d.)
  • GERMAN PROBLEMS:
    • BRITS. HAVE DECODED INFORMATION ABOUT THE ATTACK
      • EX.: BRITS KNEW WHAT SPECIFIC GERMAN TARGETS ON CRETE WERE
    • AIRBORNE ASSUALTS DEPEND ON SECRECY – WHY?
    • GEOGRAPHY OF CRETE WAS DIFFICULT (rocky, uneven)
    • FALLSCHIRMJAGERS HAVE DANGEROUS EQUIPMENT (ex. parachute harnesses)
    • LACK OF ‘CHUTE CONTROL = GERMANS OFTEN LAND ON BREITISH POSITIONS
  • RESULTS? VERY HIGH CASUALTIES
slide36

GERMAN

AIRDROP

OVER

BRITISH

POSITIONS,

CRETE,

MAY 1941

crete cont d2
CRETE (cont’d.)
  • BRITISH PROBLEMS:
    • LITTLE / NO AIR COVER
    • LACK OF RADIO EQUIPMENT
    • LACK OF TRANSPORT VEHICLES
    • LACK OF EQUIPMENT PARTS / SPARES
  • SO WHAT?
    • BRITS ARE CONSTANTLY UNDER AIR ATTACK
    • BRITS CAN’T COMMUNICATE TO EACH OTHER
    • BRITS CAN’T MOVE TO REINFORCE EACH OTHER
    • BRIT. EQUIPMENT CAN’T BE EASILY REPAIRED
crete cont d3
CRETE (cont’d.)
  • GERMANS CAN REINFORCE TROOPS (thanks to airpower)
  • BRITS. CAN’T
  • RESULTS:
    • GERMANS TAKE CRETE / BRITS. RETREAT
    • CASUALTIES ARE HEAVY FOR BOTH SIDES:
      • GERMANS:
        • KIA – 4000
        • 220 OUT OF 600 TRANSPORT PLANES DESTROYED
      • BRITISH:
        • KIA – 2000
        • P.O.W. – 12,000
    • HITLER IS FURIOUS ABOUT LOSSES ; NEVER ALLOWS ANOTHER LARGE-SCALE GERMAN AIRBORNE OPERATION
    • U.S. & BRIT. AIRBORNE UNITS LEARN VALUABLE LESSONS FROM CRETE OPERATION
      • EX: NEVER DROP TROOPS DIRECTLY ON TOP OF AN ENEMY POSITION